Banking (Special Provisions) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 21st February 2008.

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Photo of Earl Ferrers Earl Ferrers Conservative 3:45 pm, 21st February 2008

As the noble Lord, the Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard, introduced the amendment, I thought I detected in his voice a feeling of, "Hooray! Hurrah! This is coming to an end!". I am sure that the points he has made are very important but perhaps he could help me with one particular point, and then on another one.

Before I come on to the particular point, perhaps I may explain yet again that some of us, of whom I am one, feel that this ought to be a hybrid Bill, because it is dealing in effect with one bank as opposed to all the others. I know that the Government and the noble Lord do not want it to be a hybrid Bill, because that would take up so much time, but as he will realise, the purpose of hybridity is fairness, so that people can have their counsel, put their case, and have it considered. By not making it a hybrid Bill one is deliberately removing fairness. I understand why the Government have done that. We all know that the Bill refers to Northern Rock. But it does so with this caveat that it could refer to anything over the next 12 months.

I am surprised that Amendment No. 16 seeks to insert new subsection (2B) into Clause 13. The subsection states:

"If a statutory instrument to which subsection (2A) applies would, apart from this subsection, be treated as a hybrid instrument for the purposes of the Standing Orders of either House of Parliament, it is to proceed in that House as if it were not such an instrument".

In other words, if the colour appears white, you pretend it is not white and say it is black. It appears to me that this is conscious and deliberate reasoning by the Government to say, "We do not want hybridity to be part of this. If anyone sees the possibility of hybridity coming up, just tell them that it is not because we have to go on as if it is not hybrid". I question whether that is a good thing for Governments to put into Bills. Perhaps the noble Lord will explain why that is done.

My next question is of much less concern. In explaining what the amendment is about, the Minister said that it is necessary because action might have to be taken on "certain urgent occasions". Is that in case something goes wrong in another bank in the next 12 months—another urgent occasion when the Bill's facilities need to be used? Or is it referring to Northern Rock, in relation to which another order or statutory instrument might need to be laid in the next few months? I would be grateful if the Minister can explain.